I recently had an experience that brought this into new light for me. I’d placed an order online, and received the emailed notification: “Your package has shipped!” In the grand scheme of things it’s a pretty trivial thing to wait for a cardboard box to show up on your doorstep. Still, the week between that automated promise in my inbox and the expected delivery date was punctuated with small moments of anticipation.
Finally the delivery date came. And went.
The joy and frustration of modern technology are contained so well in the string of numbers and letters that allow us to track packages as they move—or don’t. This time, the status alternated between “out for delivery” and something more frustratingly nonspecific: “in transit.”